U.K. govt. defends BBC’s independence, ties with India

Statement comes after supporters of PM Modi raised strong objections to BBC documentary

Updated - February 02, 2023 12:08 pm IST

Published - February 01, 2023 11:40 pm IST - LONDON

U.K. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly. File photo

U.K. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly. File photo | Photo Credit: AP

The U.K. government on Wednesday, February 1, 2023, defended the independence of the BBC, and the relationship the U.K. had with India, after supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Modi government in India and the U.K. raised strong objections to a BBC documentary that was deeply critical of Mr. Modi’s relationship with India’s Muslims and Mr. Modi’s role in the 2002 Gujarat riots.

“You’ll appreciate the BBC is independent in its output. And we would stress that we continue to regard India as an incredibly important international partner,” a spokesperson for U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told the foreign press on Wednesday at a briefing. “We’ll be investing heavily in our relationship with India over the coming decades and we’re confident it will only go from strength to strength,” the spokesperson said.

On Tuesday, U.K. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said he had met Indian High Commissioner to the U.K. Vikram Doraiswami to discuss the fallout of the documentary and other issues.

“I recently had the opportunity to speak to the Indian High Commissioner on this and a number of other issues. We recognise how this portrayal of the Indian government has played out in India,” Mr. Cleverly said in Parliament, in response to a question from Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East.

“I made it clear that the BBC is independent in its output, that the U.K. regards India as an incredibly important international partner and that we will be investing heavily in that relationship in the coming decades,” Mr. Cleverly said.

Mr. Doraiswami and Mr. Cleverly met at a lunch organised by the India Global Forum, an advocacy group, on January 25. It is not however known if the discussions on the documentary took place at this event.

Also read |BBC documentary on PM Modi is ‘propaganda’ and reflects ‘colonial mindset’, says India

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